There are four main paths in Yoga - Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga. Each fits a temperament or a different approach to life. All paths lead, ultimately, to the same destination - the union with Brahman or God - and the lessons of each must be integrated if desired to achieve true wisdom. Purifies the heart, teaching us to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward. To detach the fruits of our actions and offer them to God, we learn to sublimate the ego.
Karma Yoga, The Yoga of Action
It is the path chosen primarily by those extroverted nature. Purifies the heart, teaching us to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward. To detach the fruits of our actions and offer them to God, we learn to sublimate the ego. To achieve this, it is useful to keep your mind focused by repeating a mantra during the development of any activity.
Bhakti Yoga, The Path of Devotion or Divine Love
This path attracts particularly those of an emotional nature. The Bhakti Yogi is motivated mainly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love. He gives himself to God through prayer, worship and ritual, channeling and transmuting his emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Chanting or singing the praises of God are a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga.
Jnana Yoga, The Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom
This is the most difficult path, requires great willpower and intellect. Using the philosophy of Vedanta, Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the inner and outer space of a glass as different, as we perceive ourselves separated from God, to ourselves. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly, by dissolving the veil of ignorance breaking the glass. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant must have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths - for without selflessness and love for God, without strength of body and mind, the pursuit of self-realization can become mere and vacuous speculation.
Raja Yoga, The Science of Mental and Physical Control
Often called the "royal path", it offers a comprehensive method for controlling waves of thought, transforming our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. Raja Yoga is also called Ashtanga Yoga referring to the eight steps leading to the absolute mind control. The main practice of Raja Yoga is meditation. It also includes all other methods that help us control the body, energy, senses and mind. Hatha Yogi uses Relaxation and other practices such as Yamas, Niyamas, Mudras, Bandhas, etc., to obtain control of the physical body and the subtle life force called Prana. When body and energy are under control meditation comes naturally.
By: +Prof: Koti Madhav Balu Chowdary